Are high or low protein diets superior? How much protein does one need? Is animal protein necessary in the diet? The following are observations based on working with many clients over the past two decades.

What is Protein?
Proteins are substances made up of smaller chemicals called amino acids. Amino acids are compounds that have both a positive and negative electrical charge. They can link together in many ways, like Tinker toys or Lego toys. Amino acids hook together in thousands of formations to make all the tissues in the body. All enzymes and many hormones are also proteins. Eating protein is a bit like eating a Lego toy that a plant or animal has constructed. Your digestive system takes it apart, piece by piece. The liver and other organs then put the pieces back together to form your unique body tissues.

Protein-containing foods can be divided into three groups:
• Red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, cheese and beans contain 20%
or more protein. Wheat germ, brewer’s yeast and spirulina are also high in
• Grains such as rice, wheat, oats, millet and barley contain 8 to 14%
• Fruits, vegetables, milk, soy milk, and juices contain less than 5%

Our body requires about 22 amino acids. We must eat about 10 of these, called the essential amino acids. The rest we can manufacture from the essential ones. Protein foods that contain all the essential amino acids are complete proteins. Meats, poultry, eggs, soy, peanuts, and cheese are complete proteins. Incomplete proteins such as grains and beans may be eaten together to provide complete protein.

Some protein foods contain a better balance of the essential amino acids than others. A food with a good balance is given a higher rating of biological quality. Egg protein (albumin) rates the highest in biological quality.

Low-Protein Diets
Today low-protein diets are popular. Research shows that too much protein can deplete calcium, leading to osteoporosis. Undigested protein can putrefy, which releases harmful substances into the body. Some authorities suggest that no concentrated protein foods need be eaten at all. They note that animals such as horses and apes eat no concentrated protein food at all, yet they are healthy and strong.

My observation is that many health-minded people take this advice too far, and don’t eat enough protein. While 60-70 grams of protein are adequate, many people are eating less than 40 grams/day. Some mistakenly believe that less protein will cause weight loss.

Others are trying to save money or time preparing meals. Many slow oxidizers find protein feels heavy in their stomach, so they just skip it and have a salad. Some clients tell me their source of protein is a glass or two of soy milk, and a few nuts and seeds. This is not much protein.

Beware of Low-Protein Diets
Protein not only functions as the building material of the body. Digestive enzymes are proteins. If digestive enzymes are decreased due to a low protein intake, absorption of all food suffers. Proteins also carry minerals to the cells. Some proteins function as antioxidants that protect against pollution. Protein stabilizes blood sugar levels by improving adrenal gland activity. The amino acids phenylalanine, tyrosine and arginine enhance adrenal and thyroid glandular activity.

One may feel better avoiding all concentrated protein for a while. However, inadequate protein eventually results in fatigue, poor digestion, low thyroid activity, bowel problems and many other disorders. A diet that is correct for an ape or horse is not necessarily correct for a human being. These animals digest food that we cannot.

Many people on low-protein diets notice their health and energy improve when they increase their intake of high-quality proteins. I find that most people need a concentrated protein food at least twice a day. This includes beans, seeds, nuts, eggs, poultry, fish or meats. Slow oxidizers often feel best eating some concentrated protein food with each meal. Besides the common protein foods, the co-op sells many delicious protein foods such as refried black beans, almond butter and sunflower butter.

Animal versus Vegetable
Many people feel better adding some animal protein to their diet. I am not exactly sure why this is so. Animal protein is a good source of vitamin B12, zinc, niacin, carnitine, taurine and other substances that are essential for health. These are not present or less biologically available in vegetable proteins. The amount of cholesterol levels depends not only on diet, but on stress levels. I know several vegetarians who had high levels of cholesterol because their body’s were out of balance.

The genetic structure of some bodies may be such that animal protein is better utilized. Vegetable proteins such as beans and grains are high in copper and low in zinc. This is harmful for some people. If body chemistry is very unbalanced, a person may not be able to eat any animal protein for awhile. Be as health improves, the ability to digest animal protein will return.

If an award were given for the “food most discriminated against” it would be the egg. Eggs contain excellent quality protein, as well as lecithin, vitamin A and many other nutrients. The famous Framingham, Massachusetts heart disease study examined the question of egg consumption. The study found those who regularly consumed eggs lived longer than those who ate eggs occasionally. Especially for those who prefer to eat less meat, eggs are a good source of high-quality protein. Two eggs daily are not too much for most people.

In conclusion, while too much protein can be detrimental, inadequate protein is also harmful to health. While individuals needs vary, concentrated protein and some animal protein are helpful for many people.

Author's Bio: 

Trained and certified by the inventors of hair analysis at the Eck Institute of Applied Nutrition and Bioenergetics, Director Grace Allison, is a successful health and wellness coach who has been practicing for more than 18 years as metabolic nutritional consultant. She has faced many life challenges, including a life-threatening disease, and used what she encountered as a stimulus to gain greater happiness and fulfillment.

Her approach to nutrition is unique compared to doctors, chiropractors and even other nutritionists. Director Allison is an educator of nutrition. Up till now, no one has provided the public with good consistent information about nutrition. Most people rely on the expertise of a sales clerk to evaluate their nutritional and supplement needs.
The link between nutrition and behavior is profound and dramatic. People often need a coach to assist them in making the life-style changes necessary. For almost two decades Director Allison has lovingly assisted people all over the world. She has been credited with changing and saving many lives.